Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

NF 445 – Surprise!

My “new” campsite along NF 445 in the Cibola National Forest.

After some errands, I moved to a nice site on the western side of the NF 445 loop near Bernalillo, New Mexico. I’d been there for a couple of days when an equally nice County Sheriff stopped by in the morning to inform me that this whole loop is a day use area only! My rig’s presence had been “reported”, and the officer’s main concern was that the Federal rangers might cruise through and cite me (with a big fine).  Oops! She mentioned that Bernalillo had a city-run camp in town, and I, having postponed my further travel planning until mid-week, had nowhere else to go locally that I knew of. Bottom line: forget this corner of Cibola National Forest!

Just a gully that I liked enough to capture.

I’d noticed a “Day Use” sign at the western entrance of the loop (there is none at the eastern entrance), but I figured its location at a parking area applied to that lot only. I’d gotten this loop from my installation of The Ultimate Public Campgrounds app on my iPhone. I had noted that the MVUM covering this section of Cibola does not specifically delineate any camping areas, which usually means that camping anywhere is fine. Usually. The complete absence of old fire rings and such was suspicious, however. Rather than get into a pissing match with the County Sheriff or the Feds about my camping rights on public land as a vested American Citizen who at one time used to earn enough to pay taxes, I decided to politely pack up and vacate the premises.

After rains had moved through, I wandered out and watched a long line of low clouds move through the mountain peaks. They were interesting because they were moving pretty quickly, and at times the vapor was simply disappearing over some fixed spots. I tried to capture it on video with my phone camera – unsuccessfully – and realized that it would all be gone by the time I broke out my tripod and old Canon videocam with its really good zoom, and galloped back up to the needed shoot location. Sometimes, being ready for passing moments counts, and I wasn’t ready!

Coronado Campground in town is packed full these days, what with a hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque, so the rates are temporarily jacked up to suit. However, there’s a parking area for cars and RVs off by its lonesome, and space there is available for $14, which is little more than a shower at a truck stop these days. Speaking of which, I had not found a place to shower in town (the local community center being closed for the season), nor a source of potable water. This camp has both, plus dumpsters for trash. So as far as I’m concerned, getting tossed out of the loop was a blessing in disguise. I needed a shower. I do have the accoutrements in my rig to provide myself a 3-gallon hot shower in privacy, but being a lazy person, it’s not worth the time and trouble if a real shower is available nearby. That’s what suburban living does to you, I guess.

Yesterday morning presented a single hot air balloon drifting over the broad valley.

My stay in this city campground is giving me time to research and plan before I press on. So tomorrow, the scheme is to head for the Joe Skeens Campground in the El Malpais National Conservation Area, just 90-some miles and an hour and a half away. Hopefully, a space there is available. That’s not all that far from Grants, New Mexico, where I can theoretically resupply at the end of that stay. That campground puts me back up at 6,900′ elevation, which may be a bit cool for this time of year, but it should be livable. I have only a few possible campsites left in my repertoire – none of which I have ever seen so far – and my wintering RV park is still far too uncomfortably hot to cut and run, so we’ll see how circumstances play out in the next few weeks!

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3 thoughts on “NF 445 – Surprise!

  1. Not the kind of surprise you want to happen, but better than the Big Fine! Oh my!

  2. Linda Sand on said:

    Glad your free camping didn’t turn out to be very expensive!

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